Live Brilliantly - A Study In The Book Of 1 John

Day 4 of 10 • This day’s reading

Devotional

To Know Him Is to Love Others


Introduction

The Old Testament emphasizes the Law. The New Testament emphasizes love. With the Ten Commandments, the Old Testament tells us to love. With Jesus, the New Testament shows us how to love. John 1:17 says, "The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John, the "disciple whom Jesus loved. " (John 21:7), taught us about Jesus' love so that we can imitate that love in our lives. 


When I was a child, anytime I said I loved something, like "I love root beer!" my sister would say, "Well, why don't you marry it?" I was unrestrained in declaring my love and she was relentless in torturing me. John doesn't want us to love on the root-beer level; he wants us to love on the agape level. 


A New Commandment


"Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you" (1 John 2:7-8). 


In the original Greek, the word new has two different meanings : it can mean new in time or recent, but it can also mean new in quality or fresh. John's new commandment is not just new in time; it is also new in character, a fresh approach. The Old Testament commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). The New Testament commandment is "that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). 


For believers to successfully walk in the light, we simply need to love one another. And our model for how to love is Jesus Christ. John said this new commandment "is true in Him and in you" (1 John 2:8). In other words, we are to follow the pattern for love as established by Jesus. 


A New Love

Prior to Jesus, people had never seen His kind of love. They likely loved their families. Perhaps they loved their tribe and their nation. But they didn't love their enemies. They didn't love diseased people. Individuals with leprosy were labeled unclean and driven outside the community. 


"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus' sacrificial love is an entirely new kind of love. The apostle Paul prayed that believers would be able to grasp this love: "That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19).


A New Darkness

John always brought it back to the light. He wrote, "He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him" (1 John 2:9-10). If you practice this new sacrificial love, then you are truly not just walking in the light, but abiding in the light


By contrast, John said, "He who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes" (v. 11). I love the clarity of John's words. Love and light are the opposites of hate and darkness. They can't exist in the same space. They can't dwell in the same heart. 


And then John showed us the horrifying end result of walking in darkness. Hate causes people to live in darkness, to be altogether disoriented ("does not know where he is going") to the point of blindness ("the darkness has blinded his eyes"). It's like how most deep-sea creatures are blind because of the absolute absence of sunlight. Scientists point to evolution, believing these creatures have adapted to—learned to survive in—total darkness.


Closing

There is only one cure for darkness: light. May you allow Jesus, the Light of the World, into every dark place in your heart so that no darkness remains in you. Remember that walking in the light is accomplished by obeying His commands, which allows His love to be perfected in you. In turn, you are able to fully obey the new commandment to love as Jesus loved.


Prayer

Lord, You loved me when I was a sinner. You love me at my worst. May Your love compel me to be like You. Lord, I will never be perfect, but I want to become more and more like You. More light, less darkness. Help me to walk in the light and to avoid all manner of darkness. Shine Your light in me, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.